Friday, 11 March 2011

Pup update

Mike surprised me with a labrador puppy. I wondered why he kept going on about "wouldn't it be nice to have a little puppy again!" and pointing out all the spring babies - calves, tiny pairs of lambs, baby bunnies, even badger cubs waking us up in the middle of the night with their noisy wrestling matches. I think Mike gets broody.

And, sure, it seems like 8 dogs would be enough already, to fill our lives with love (to paraphrase a TV show theme tune). But it's also a matter of filling our kennels with workers. I rely on Jazz and Dulcie, my hardcore spaniel team, but both girls are middle aged. In a couple of year's time, they won't be able to work 50 days a season. Pip the lab will probably have to slow down around the same time because of her weak hips. Podge the cocker spaniel and Spud will be the main team by then. Replacements always need to be following on behind.

It takes anywhere from 18 months to 3 years to train a dog, depending on its individual levels of maturity and ability. Keepers' dogs have to be the Jack of all Trades dogs, doing every job on the shoot: they hunt up any wounded birds after shoot season, 'dog' birds (i.e. chase them) back home when the birds are first released and begin to wander, then put birds over guns or find and retrieve shot birds for 5 straight months of winter. On days we're not shooting, we often help local shoots that are short handed, so 50 days is a minimum.

Of course, the retirees have a home for life, even after wear and tear means they can't work at all. We owe them that. Nellie is our only completely retired dog, but she likes riding in the truck and pottering around the garden. Pretty much what I will probably like when I'm an old lady. I even give her a cup of tea sometimes, if I'm making one for myself and we're taking a break from the weeding and whatnot.

This new pup probably won't be our only one this year. We will look out for a springer spaniel - the monkey wrench of shooting dogs, capable of every job - by summer. After the chocolate lab goes to her new home. The magic number hovers around 8 dogs.

Of course another puppy following on behind this one means I'm not going to get a night's unbroken sleep until next winter.

I picked out our so-far-still-nameless lab pup from the litter yesterday. I had 3 bitches to pick from and this one was by far the ugliest, made worse by a huge bruise on the bridge of its nose (from putting its face in another dog's food bowl). I wanted to pick one of the others but nameless pup was quieter, sat and looked at me, and kept picking up lengths of straw and carrying them over to me. She was definitely a little work bee...uh, lab. Looks don't count on a shoot day.

I took her straight to the vets for a check over and a jab of anti-inflammatory / antibiotics for her nose. Like most puppies, she was car sick and, on the way to the vets, vomited. Right onto the handbrake. Like a labrador, she proceeded to eat what didn't fall through the gap around the handbrake. So goes it sharing your life with an eight-week old puppy.

She's being crate trained in the house, and her crate is tucked the other side of our kitchen table cum office desk. This is usually Dakota's sleeping spot and she's slightly put out. None of the house dogs are thrilled by the new arrival. They're all upstairs in bed with Mike who was on 4am puppy duties. I raided Mike's old hospital supplies and found absorbent pads which make great puppy bedding.

I will try and think of a name, but I could use suggestions. Anything I can easily shout across a field with minimal embarassment will be considered. I keep calling her Bug, but I should have learned my lesson with the flatcoat. Nicknames end up being recognised by smart dogs, by which time it's too late to fix it. Hence Spud with forever be Spud. Help me save Bug from the same fate!


Paula said...

I have friends who had a dog named Chunque (pronounced 'chunk') because she blew chunks on the first ride home. She was a great dog whom I loved dearly. Nothing is coming to mind..... How about Pearl? You could call her Scrappy, because of her first encounter. I like Pearl better. I'm also partial to Wil-ma! because then you'd sound like Fred Flinstone. Someday, a dog of mine is going to be Wilma. I just like the name.

I laughed at the idea of Mike being broody.

Kate said...

I suspect "Bug" is too close to "Spud" for field shouting so it should probably go just to forestall confusion among the dogs. She's cute. I'll tell you that for free while admitting I'm more of a cat person than a dog person. The name Moxie comes to mind, but I don't know if that would cause embarrassment at a shoot. And would she live up to it? Mishap? (Miss Hap?) Mayhap? Depends on her personality, I suppose. It seems I'm free associating on the theme of M. Should probably leave it there.

Rubysmamma said...

Ah bless her! Really enjoyed reading this post as we have a shooot on our farm and i have an 18 month old working cocker who im training, his name is Ted and he's our first cocker(we have a springer cross already) I adore him!
I always read your blog but dont always have time to comment, i admire how you have a freezer full of 'bits' puts us to shame sometimes having birds hanging in the porch for 2 weeks-too lazy to dress them!! You obviously work very hard..x

Onto names then, how about Gem-easy to shout, but quite girly.
Molly or 'mo'-or 'mol'
I also like Bay(like the herb)
Or Ebbie(ebony)...
I always find it hardest to pick the ped name and easy to pick the day to day...good luck!
Love Kirsty x

Rubysmamma said...

Ooh! ooh, i just though of two more, how about florence(looks posh on the KC reg)but you can caller Flo, or May, as in mabel. Im 33 weeks pregnant and i have picked those names if we have a girl. My friend has a female WCS and she is simply called 'Fi' x

Megan said...

I like the list of M-names that everyone here is contributing... but then, I would. ;) hehehe. Consequently, I'm only offering the (rather useless) contribution of ladies M-names:
Megan... ;)

Have fun with the new pup! Hope it's not too stressful.

Teri said...

Well, my goldens were Annie, Maggie, and Rose. I had Lucy, springer cross and now Loretta. Loretta is a big long to yell at a dog, actually. I tend to name my dogs and cats people names, just to use up names that I like myself (I had a cat named Ida Mae once, for example.) In fact, what about Mae for a name? She's cute, whatever you call her!

Dog Hair in my Coffee said...

Daisy? I've always wanted a dog named Daisy. Or Fiona. Willow. Or Abai. But my go-to for names is always literature. Bramble I named because being a Border Collie, originating from Scotland, I wanted a "Scottish" name - and was searching for that when I ran across "Brambleberries" and decided that since i LOOOOVE berries, that Bramble would make a good name. I will think on this and send more ideas. I LOVE naming things. Or at least thinking about names. I still had names left to use when I was done having kids - which is why I started getting dogs, cats, chickens - they're all named!

martha in mobile said...

Well, since she somehow reminds you of a bug, how about Cricket, Katie (for cicada), Beetle, May or Fly (for Mayfly)...

I think she looks like a Cutie-Pie Cuddlesworth, but that's just me.

Captain Shagrat said...

Hmmmmm....first name that came to mind was Darcy but its too much like Dulcie, so possibly Jet or blue. I do like a good Lord Of The Rings name hence my silly name so. So Goldberry is sweet or Fatty Lumpkin for humour, perhaps Slinker and if you plan on getting another dog you could do a duet of Bifur and Bofur. Hope this helps;-)

Anonymous said...

How about Arbie, short for the german word work. You would always remember your first meeting where she indurstriously brought you straw.

Kerry said...

My first pick for a name for your puppy is Franklin. It is easy to yell and doesn't sound like your other puppy names. I also like Chester. Don't be tempted to shorten the dog's name to Frankie or Chessy. Just because she's got ovaries (for now?) doesn't mean you have to diminutize her name.
She's super cute -- I can't imagine how she was the ugliest of the lot. I'm insanely jealous.

Poppy Cottage said...

Oh Wow Jen. Makes me realise how much I really miss Daz. (I start the new job on 1st April - 2 years to the day when I lost her - crap joke!!)

I'd stick with Bug, I think it is a fantastic name.

She's beautiful. Mike certainly knows the way to a normal womans heart, most men think it is flowers and chocolates.

megan said...

I like Mabel, too. But she looks like a Minna to me. I prefer it spelled Mina, but didn't want it to look like it should be Miner said with a thick new england acccent...

Hazel said...


I'll stop now!
And I don't think she's ugly either :o)

Anonymous said...

Somewhere, once upon a time, I read that cats and dogs respond better to two syllable names that end in the -eee sound. I don't know where I heard it, but our three animals like their -eee names very much. In that spirit, how about Sammy, Lyddie, Indy? A girl dog named Indy would be pretty cool, I won't lie. If all else fails, you could check out this neat name-selecting tool that lets you pick names by character traits: Good luck!

Kate said...

My best dog is Maggie, Magdalene when I'm mad. If Podge and Spud are going to be her cohorts, you need an 'E' or an 'A' vowel sound to make it easier for her to recognize her name. Lady(bug) would be nice, but maybe not politic. I also like Mabel, or Hazel. Congrats and good luck on the new puppy!

Karen Thomason/Gordon Setter Crossing said...

Here are some idea's from Me and my Gordon Setters. Gordon's are black and tan and originated in Scotland. They, and I, tend to lean toward the Scottish and Irish names. We also need the name to be a good "call" name for hunting, as do you. Here's our suggestions: in peat moss. Maggie, Maddy, Katy, Rita, Cassy, Celtie (pronounced Keltie) Kelly, Gracie, Bonnie, Abey, Velvet or Vel, Tess, Sophie, Rainy, Ruthie, & Sugar.

Good Luck.

keryn said...

Tessa is a common dogs name here, which is easy to yell out. I like Bella as well.

Leaking Moonlight said...

Seriously, with that face, "Buddha."

Tamar@StarvingofftheLand said...

Yay! A new dog! Now you'll have to give us some details about how you train them. I've been reading you for a long time, and you always just toss in the part about training the dogs, and I've been very curious about how you actually do it.

A lab now, and then a springer spaniel, and then you know you're getting a border collie for the sheep. That's ok -- sleep's overrated.

As for a name, I think you should call her Tamar.